Essential Tips for Riding your Horse Safely
While horse riding is an incredibly liberating and enjoyable activity, it presents some potential risks to the rider, horse and any spectators. Horses are powerful creatures, and a fall or accident can be devastating for everyone involved. To ensure you are as safe as possible every time you go riding, follow our tips below.
In the digital age, more and more people are taking to YouTube videos and blogs to learn how to ride a horse. While this can be a good way of brushing up on your existing skills, it’s not recommended to learn the foundations of horse riding when you’re a beginner from an online source. The safest way to go about learning is with an experienced instructor on a well-tempered school horse. An instructor will help you master all the essential techniques such as stopping, turning and transitions, as well as prevent any bad habits from developing.
Ensure children’s safety
Children are most vulnerable to being injured by a horse, so it’s important to teach them how to behave around a horse. They must know to be calm around horses, and not to frighten, startle or annoy them. They should also always keep a safe distance between themselves and the horse and know not to be distracting when others are riding.
Wear the right safety equipment
Wearing an approved riding helmet is simply non-negotiable each and every time you ride. The majority of rider fatalities are as a result of a head injury, so the benefits of wearing a helmet are abundantly clear. Remember that experienced riders are just as susceptible to head injuries as less experienced ones, so being familiar with your horse or well-versed in riding isn’t an excuse to leave your helmet behind.
Inexperienced or young riders may also want to wear a safety vest and quality boots with minimal tread in case of any slip-ups.
Don’t wear any accessories like scarves or flowy layers that could become tangled in the horse, saddle or nearby shrubbery.
Learn how to fall and do an emergency dismount
If the worst case scenario occurs and you tumble off your horse, it’s worth learning the proper way to fall and roll away from the horse to minimise the risk of injury. Similarly, master the emergency dismount so you can get out of the way before the situation escalates.
Match the horse with the rider
Matching the energy and temperament between the horse and rider is a good way of ensuring compatibility and safety. An overly energetic horse will quickly panic a novice rider, while a mellow horse might be pushed to its limits by a more zealous rider, with both situations posing a grave danger.
A qualified instructor will be able to evaluate your riding abilities and help match you with a horse that is well suited to you.
Minimise the risk of kicking
Horses are known for their powerful kicks, and any horse can lash out and kick at any time. Avoid approaching a horse from too close behind and leave it alone altogether if it seems agitated. If you know a horse is inclined to kick, warn other riders and even consider tying a ribbon or making a mark of some sort to let others know.
Ride carefully when in a group
Horses have a strong herd instinct which can be dangerous when riding in a group. Riding too close together or forcing your horse to speed up or slow down to keep with the group can cause panic and collisions. Even an otherwise mellow horse can start rushing with the herd once the whole group picks up speed or is riding too close together, which an inexperienced rider may not be able to handle.
Ride at your horse’s own pace and keep a safe distance to avoid any fiery moments.
Avoid running home
Horses can sense when they’re close to home, and will tend to want to sprint the last little bit home. Try your best to prevent your horse from doing this by keeping a consistent speed, as this is a bad habit that can potentially lead to falls and crashes.
By following the basic guidelines above, you can ensure that your rides go smoothly and safely.
Gilberts is your one-stop shop for all your horse riding equipment, ensuring that you and your horse are equipped with all the right safety gear. Browse our site today to see the options available to you.